Thursday, June 20, 2013

SermonCliffNote: Stewarding God's Shalom

SCRIPTURE: Proverbs 3.5-12; Romans 12.1-2; and Romans 14.7-8

Stewardship is the idea of taking care of something that belongs to someone else.  It may sound odd to name our own health as ‘belonging’ to someone else, but the fact is that even our health, our own very well-being, not only resides in God, but belongs to God.  This is as true of our health, our wholeness, as a congregation as it is of our health, our wholeness, as individuals.

Stewarding our congregational health must be intentional.  We’ve got to think about it.  We’ve got to act out of knowledge, not ignorance.  We’ve got to study the problem and understand it or our efforts at solutions are not just a waste of time; we’ll actually end up doing the opposite of what’s needed and be worse off than we were when we started.  We’ve got to be intentional; we’ve got to do the work of study.

Secondly, we must understand that memory is just memory. Memory is not sacred.  Only God is sacred.
We owe no duty of stewardship to the past.  We cannot betray the past – it isn’t possible, for the past is just that – past, gone.

We can learn from the past; but the past has no need of our homage, our honor.  When Jesus said to a would-be follower, let the dead bury the dead, he wasn’t being metaphorical.  He was speaking a literal word of advice to the young man: the time to follow me is now, not later.  You have to let go of the old ways if you’re going to follow where I’m going.  And what you’re delaying for isn’t bad; it’s just unnecessary.  And it’s getting in the way of following me.  And every chance doesn’t come around again.  Being a good steward of our health means knowing when to let go of the past; when to accept and even embrace change – not for its own sake, but because it’s time . . . because to do otherwise is to live a lie – the lie that the past is still present.  A good steward knows when to let go.

Finally, being entrusted with something means we actually have to take care of it in the present – all the time.
To ignore my own duty to be intentional in thinking about the problem; to stay stuck in my memories; to fail to take good care of what I have: all of these mistakes mean that I become a bad steward of that which was entrusted to me, even if it was something for my own use or benefit.  It means that I hurt myself and others.
But when I do the reverse: take the time to understand the true problem; not hold myself captive to my memories; take care of even the broken thing that I have, wonder upon wonder, life unfolds and I enter into the sacred space of being a co-worker with God.

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